Creativity Challenge #6 - Ultra-wide Angle

Week 6 challenge was to shoot using an ultra-wide angle lens.

There's no strict definition of what constitutes an 'ultra-wide" lens but a good rule of thumb is anything with an angle of view greater than 90°, which equates to anything wider than about 24mm on a full frame 35 mm camera.

Ultra-wide angle lenses are specialist lenses often used by architectural photographers because they enable the capture of so much inside a building/room. The biggest hurdle for lens manufacturers is that it is difficult to create such wide angles without introducing barrel distortion. However, the good news for landscape photographers is that there are rarely parallel lines in nature so distortion is often not obvious; and that modern photo editing software has presets to remove the distortion found in these (and other) lenses.

Ultra-wide angles lenses give a unique perspective on the world but, because they are so wide, they are hard to shoot with. Photographers new to using these lenses often start with a "wider the better" mentality because "you can get more in". This is certainly true but the extreme wide angle also makes distant, and even relatively close, objects appear very small in the frame so it is easy to lose the emphasis on the subject of the photograph. It is also often hard to avoid distracting elements, in particular your own shadow when you are shooting away from the sun or other light source. Fortunately, the other characteristic of these lenses is that they have extreme depth of field even at moderate apertures so it is possible to shoot close up objects in the foreground and maintain sharp focus all the way to distant objects.

13th Beach, Barwon Heads

There's a rock shelf that runs along the shore close to the high tide mark at several places along this beach. High tide occurred about 90 minutes before sunset and there was very little swell making ideal conditions to shoot the small waves breaking over the edge of this rock platform.

I spent some time looking for a location that would allow me to exploit the extreme depth of field by composing some interesting rock formations in the foreground where there were receding waves that would make interesting patterns in the channels between the rocks. I deliberately lowered the tripod and tipped the camera forward to further emphasise the foreground. 

12mm, ISO 100, f/16, 1.3 seconds 3-stop ND filter, 4-stop graduated ND filter

12mm, ISO 100, f/16, 1.3 seconds
3-stop ND filter, 4-stop graduated ND filter

The resulting image demonstrates the stretching of the foreground (the centre of this image is only about 2 metres from the camera) and the exaggerated diagonals. 

This second shot, demonstrates how distant objects, e.g., the setting sun in this case, appear much smaller in comparison with the exaggerated size of foreground objects.

12mm, ISO 100, f/16, 0.5 seconds 3-stop reverse graduated ND filter

12mm, ISO 100, f/16, 0.5 seconds
3-stop reverse graduated ND filter

A video of this shoot can be found on my You Tube channel.

Please feel free to comment below. Constructive criticism and informed discussion are always welcome.

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